Monday, March 24, 2008

Name that Comic: Answers, Pt. 1

I'm headed off to Cincy, so I won't be posting for awhile. Hopefully, you can enjoy a little of this every day, and learn about a few performers who might have excaped your radar.

They say comics are products of their times and circumstances. So here are the answers to last post’s match-up, and some information about the speakers.

1-o, Alberta Peal, aka LaWanda Page (1920-2002)

In perhaps one of the greatest ironies in the history of show biz, who would have ever thought that the former stripper-turned-foul-mouth-comedienne would become famous for playing the zealously pious and unswervingly prudish Aunt Ethel on TV’s Sanford and Son? Page had the greatest comedic timing I’ve ever heard. She’s also the raunchiest comic I’ve ever heard. Click the player below to hear some of her tamer material. Click here if you want to sample the hard stuff.




2-a, Robert Elliot (1923- ) & Raymond Goulding (1920-1990)

Bob & Ray began as DJs on Boston’s WHDH. They formed their deadpan style when asked by their boss to improvise comedy routines during Boston Red Sox rain delays. Debuting nationally in 1946, they became a mainstay in radio for the next four decades. Click below to listen to one of my favorite routines.




3-q, Richard Pryor (1940-2005)

The quote, taken from his 1969 routine, is from a spoof of NBC’s Tomorrow show, the guest panelists of which include a minister (who feels God touching him), a born-again Christian, an anthropology professor, and a Black Panther. This bit includes a pitch-perfect impersonation of the late-Tom Snyder.

At the time, Pryor was in the process of transition from the clean, wholesome jokes reminiscent of Bill Cosby (whom he idolized) to the wildly profane comedy he’s best known for, and which influenced virtually all comics from then on. While not yet full of the emotional range and rage characteristic of his ‘70s work, one can see the development of his political consciousness in this routine and others.

For years, I lurked on Pryor’s forum, which never failed to give me a laugh, especially when Richard decided to put his two cents in. But his wife/widow Jennifer and the other frequent posters really made it a lot of fun, as in this memorable post about Pryor’s rumored relationship to actress Pam Grier.


4-e, Dr. William H. Cosby (1937- ). Answered by Enemy of the Republic


This quote comes from the concert movie Bill Cosby: Himself, filmed live in Hamilton, ON. Click here to visit his official website.


5-n, Loretta Aiken, aka Moms Mabley (1884-1975)

Beginning in blackface minstrel shows, she did long-term stints in vaudeville and the Chittlin’ Circuit before emerging as a star in her own right on TV and in movies near the end of her life. Her onstage persona, sort of a prototypical bag lady, fearlessly championed the civil rights movement and the counterculture of the 1960s.

She also played an important part in my life. Talking with her after a show in Columbus, OH in 1962, my aunts asked Moms what she thought about Los Angeles, because they were fantasizing about moving there. Moms convinced them to move to New York instead. In large part, I came to NY because I had family here. Otherwise, I’d be writing this blog on Venice Beach.

Click here, and listen to Moms in action.


6-f, Jacob Cohen, aka Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004)

Dangerfield actually had two separate and non-contiguous careers as a standup comic. During the 1950s, he started out doing typical borscht-belt humor. After struggling, he quit, and took up a job as a salesman. It was at that time when he came up with the idea of a character who couldn’t get any respect from anyone, the ultimate schlemiel. He christened the character Rodney Dangerfield, an alias sometimes used by Jack Benny on his radio show, and that's all it took. Click here to visit his official website.

7-j, John Sanford, aka Redd Foxx (1922-1991)

Sanford was a close friend of Malcolm X when both worked at the same restaurant. Because of their natural hair color, they became known respectively as ‘St. Louis Red’ and ‘Detroit Red.’ He kept the Red nickname for the rest of his life, adding an additional ‘d,’ and took the last name of baseball star Jimmy Foxx.

Many know him for his crude standup routine. But he’s best remembered as LA junk dealer Fred Sanford (the name of his brother, in real life) in the series Sanford and Son. In that series, he often feigned comedic heart attacks in order to manipulate his son, played by Demond Wilson. Ironically, while filming his new hit series, he died of a heart attack onstage, prompting his co-stars to break out into laughter and thunderous applause, unaware that he wasn’t pretending.


8-d, Moran “Margaret” Cho (1968- ). Answered by Enemy of the Republic

This openly bisexual comedienne with the thick California accent has continued to carve out a career for herself, despite the continual confrontations with prejudice and petty mindedness. For example, producers of her sitcom¸ All American Girl, chided her for not being “Asian enough,” and hired a coach to teach her how to be Korean American. Ever since, she’s savagely attacked racism and stereotypes. She’s also become an outspoken proponent of gay and lesbian rights.

Click here to visit her blog.

9-r, Christopher Rock III (1965- ). Answered by Enemy of the Republic

Standup comedian, Saturday Night Live alum, director, actor, Eddie Murphy protégé and talk show host Chris Rock is arguably the most ubiquitous comic working today. He ranked #5 in Comedy Central’s list of 100 greatest standup comedians.



10-k, Leo Gallagher (1946- ) & Ronald Gallagher (1949- )

Leo Gallagher made a name for himself smashing watermelons and other items onstage with a huge hammer he called the ‘Sledge-o-matic.’ Later, his kid brother, Ron, asked permission to use some of his special props to do his own standup show. Leo agreed, provided that Ron promise not to take his identity (easy to do, since the two brothers look very much alike) and perform as him. At first Ron kept this promise, performing as Gallagher Too. But after awhile, his act became increasingly identical to his brother’s, to the point where they became virtually indistinguishable.

After numerous requests to stop impersonating him, Leo finally resorted to suing Ron for trademark violations and false advertising. Leo won the suit, but became a pariah within his own family. He is now estranged from them.

The quote comes originally from Leo Gallagher. Click here to visit his website.

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Name that Comic: Answers, Pt. 2

We had to do this in two separate posts because ol' Blogger here couldn't take the original in its entirety.

11-I, Jeffrey Foxworthy (1958- ). Answered by Enemy of the Republic

Currently the host of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, Jeff Foxworthy, an articulate and well-educated computer programmer from Atlanta, ironically found success developing an unsophisticated, blue-collar persona that poked fun at himself and other “rednecks.” His trademark punchline, “You might be a redneck,” is almost always secondary to the joke’s setup, making his one of the strangest gag constructions in comedy. In addition to the above-cited quote, here are some examples.

If you help your uncle move his refrigerator, and the grass underneath it has turned yellow....

If you prefer to walk off the excess length of your jeans rather than hem them....

If your mother keeps a spit cup on the ironing board....

If your family tree does not fork....
For more examples, visit his website.


12-l, William Hicks (1961-1995). Answered by Celestine

Bill Hicks was a master of irony. Often foulmouthed, lewd, and full of invective, the center core of his cerebral comedy primarily consisted of a mix of Christian charity and humanism.

Shortly before his untimely death, Hicks became outraged when he heard another comic, Dennis Leary, performing material very similar to his own on the latter’s album No Cure for Cancer. Leary also developed a petulant stage persona similar to Hicks’. Though angered, Hicks took no legal action against Leary. In perhaps the greatest irony of all, some people now mistakenly think that Hicks copied Leary.

Click here to visit his website.

13-c, Richard “Cheech” Marin (1946- ) & Thomas Chong (1938- ). First answered by NYD. Independently answered by Enemy of the Republic.

Alberta native Tommy Chong, former songwriter and guitarist for the Motown group Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, left the band and came back to British Columbia to manage his brother’s strip club, the Shanghai Junk. He decided to turn it into an improv comedy club, and hired the dancers to perform as topless comediennes instead.

Cheech Marin, an American ex-patriot avoiding the draft, heard about the club, and went there to check it out. He eventually tried his hand at standup, and Chong took a shine took a shine to him, offering him $60 a week to perform full-time.

The rest, as they say, is history. Through records and movies they became famous for their portrayals of two clueless druggies living on the margins of society. Although they broke up in 1985, they still reunited occasionally on such TV shows as Nash Bridges (co-starring Marin) and South Park. Efforts to revive their act in yet another movie are in a constant state of flux. So stay tuned.



14-s, Robin Williams (1951- )

After two stints in short lived TV efforts (the second incarnation of Laugh-In and The Richard Pryor show), Williams struck the big time playing an extraterrestrial in the series Mork and Mindy. Mostly known for his film work, he has done standup for many years. In 1998, he received the Academy Award for his performance in Good Will Hunting.

The above quote is one that’s a lot funnier when you hear it. Click the media player below, or visit his website here.




15-b, George Carlin (1937- )

Carlin began as a Fort Worth DJ around 1957, shortly after his discharge from the US Air Force. Over the years, he has taken the persona of a beatnik (if you can find his classic sketch “Ode to a Texaco Restroom,” consider yourself lucky), a hippie, and eventually a curmudgeonly old man. Out of all standup comedians, he, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce are often regarded as possibly the greatest who ever lived.

The Web has provided a forum for netizens to write a number of screeds, rants and diatribes, and then falsely credit them to Carlin. These tracts usually do not reflect Carlin’s wit or ideology. The phenomenon became so common that George used to set aside a page on his website to list all the things he didn’t write. Now, he simply links to Snopes.com for each mis-attributed writing as they arise.

16-p, Paula Poundstone (1959-1988; 1988- )

Poundstone’s career is an example of someone making the personal political. Her standup routine includes material that is sometimes painfully intimate, and she speaks candidly of the unsavory events of her life. From her suicide attempts, to her mental illness, her death, her alcoholism, her bad driving and her arrest, she covers just about everything that most of us would keep secret. She’s kinda like a proto-personal blogger (although she’s kinda slack in maintaining an actual blog).

Her biggest strength is improvisation, and she frequently interacts with people in the audience. This makes her a great guest for panel shows, and game shows such as To Tell the Truth and NPR’s Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!

Click the media player below to sample one of her performances on A Prairie Home Companion. Click here to visit her website.




17-m, Dr. Thomas Lehrer (1928- ). Answered by Enemy of the Republic

A mathematics professor by trade, Tom Lehrer began a dual career in comedy during his college days at Harvard. His work as a comedian relies heavily on original songs and song parodies, as in the quote above. During the 1960s, he became the resident composer of the US version of That Was the Week that Was, a satirical review of news and current events. A lot of his comedy is in the vein of political satire, but includes discussion of such academic subjects as math (surprise, surprise) and psychology.



18-g, Ellen DeGeneres (1958- ). First answered by Dale. Independently answered by Enemy of the Republic.

After dropping out of college, and bouncing from one dead-end job to another, DeGeneres began performing at coffeehouses and other small venues. Working her way up the comedy chain, she eventually appeared as a regular in such sitcoms as Open House in the late-1980s. She finally starred in her own sitcom, the success of which was derailed when her character (and she) came out of the closet.

Undaunted, DeGeneres continued her career as a comedienne amid high-profile affairs with actresses Anne Heche and Portia de Rossi, and reestablished herself with lauded performances as the hostess of the Emmy and Academy awards shows. Her current talk show is one of the highest rated, and it has won four Emmy awards in its own right.

Below is a clip of DeGeneres discussing a very serious topic.



19-h, Phyllis Diller (1917- ). Answered by Enemy of the Republic

Diller began her career in comedy in the 1950s as a copywriter. From writing, she developed a stage persona as a deranged frumpish housewife forever complaining about her husband, Fang. In the early-1960s, she began a long-term association with comedian Bob Hope which included several feature films and frequent tours with him to Vietnam. Still active at the age of ninety-one, she is possibly the oldest standup comic still working.

Click here to see an example of her more recent work.

20-t, Clerow “Flip” Wilson Jr. (1933-1998)

Wilson got the nickname ‘Flip’ during his stint in the US Air Force, where he would crack up fellow airmen (i.e., “flip them out”) with his jokes and antics. His comedy career, oddly enough, began as a bellhop at the San Francisco Manor Hotel, where management paid him extra to play the role of a drunk between acts. He eventually made his way to Harlem, where he became a regular of the Apollo Theater.

His 1967 album, Cowboys and Colored People, is one of the seminal recordings in the history of standup, and it featured Wilson’s best talents, mainly his ability to combine political satire and intellectualism to form a routine that still resonated with audiences without offending anyone.

The album got the notice of NBC execs, who gave Wilson his own show. For it’s brief run, it never finished out of the top five in the Neilson ratings, and won an astounding eighteen Emmys.

As I’ve stated in earlier posts, Wilson is my favorite comic of all time. Click the media player below to listen to a typical Flip gag.


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Name that Comic

Here are some lines from famous comedians (and comediennes). See if you can match the line with the performer.

The Quotes

1. I’m sittin’ up here nervous as a ho’ in church.

2. Please do not throw things into the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is our canyon. It’s the largest canyon we have. But it will cease to be the largest canyon if people keep throwing things into it.

3. When God touches one of us, He touches all of us. In many ways. Sometimes, late at night, when I’m in bed, I feel God touching me.

4. Person 1: Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful?
Person 2: Because it intensifies your personality.
Person 1: Yes. But what if you’re an asshole?

5. My husband was so ugly, he used to stand outside the doctor’s office and make people sick.

6. No, I don’t snort cocaine. I just like the way it smells.

7.


I kissed her lips.
And then,
For meanness’ sake,
She twisted her legs,
And broke my glasses.
8. And I went through this whole thing, you know. I was like, “Am I gay? Am I straight?” And I realized: I’m just slutty. Where’s my parade?

9. I like guns. You got a gun, you don’t have to work out. I ain’t working out. I ain’t jogging. You got pecs? I got TECs!

10. The sledge-o-matic works like no ordinary tranquilizer can.

11. If you own a home that is mobile, and fourteen cars that aren’t....

12. Someone made a comment at the club, going, “We don’t come to comedy to think.”

“Well gee, where do you go to think? I’ll meet you there. We don’t have to do this here.”

13.


No stems, no seeds that you don’t need,
Acapulco Gold is
Bad ass weed.
14. Every so often, Rumsfeld comes out and goes, “I don’t know where, I don’t know when, but something awful’s going to happen. Thank you, that’s all for today. No further questions.”

“Excuse me, can you give me a clue? What is it? The Central Intuitive Agency now? Are you working with Miss Cleo?”

15. The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

16. My mom said she learned to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off a boat. I said, “Mom, they weren’t trying to teach you to swim.”

17.

I hold your hand in mine, dear.
I press it to my lips.
I take a healthy bite
From your dainty fingertips.

My joy would be complete, dear,
If you were only here.
But still I keep your hand
As a precious souvenir.
18. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.

19. You know you’re old when your walker has an airbag; and your birthday cake looks like a prairie fire; and they’ve discontinued your blood type; and if you were a building, you’d be condemned; and somebody compliments you on your alligator shoes, and you’re barefoot.

20. Violence is a tool of the ignorant.


The Speakers (in alphabetical order)

a. Bob & Ray
b. George Carlin
c. Cheech & Chong
d. Margaret Cho
e. Bill Cosby
f. Rodney Dangerfield
g. Ellen DeGeneres
h. Phyllis Diller
i. Jeff Foxworthy
j. Redd Foxx
k. Gallagher
l. Bill Hicks
m. Tom Lehrer
n. Mom’s Mabley
o. LaWanda Page
p. Paula Poundstone
q. Richard Pryor
r. Chris Rock
s. Robin Williams
t. Flip Wilson

For the answers to questions one through ten, click here. For answers to questions eleven through twenty, click here.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bormann’s Ghost and Mr. Marcus: A Mother’s Struggle against Fear

The cult aspects of Lyndon LaRouche and his organizations had become apparent to many members early on. Like other cult leaders, LaRouche relied upon fear as a mechanism for controlling his followers. In some instances, fear of deprogramming, shunning, “ego stripping,” or some other disciplinary action inhibited tendencies to disagree with leadership. But in many cases, fear could also quell dissent among the rank and file simply by distracting them. In his 1983 book Architects of Fear, a blistering attack on conspiracy theory and theorists (“whacking” or otherwise), George Johnson wrote of LaRouche:
'The fundamental tendency which holds the [party] together...is mania,’ according to a statement given to reporters by a group of defectors in 1979. ‘Since 1973, LaRouche has continuously announced a series of ‘deadlines,’ no more than three months in the future, by which time some horrible catastrophe will occur unless prevented by [the members].’

When the disasters failed to occur, the former members wrote, the organization was credited with successful intervention.

'The result of this continual mania is to prevent members from having any time to think or question. The leadership, LaRouche in particular, maintain an atmosphere of psychological terror.’
The organization’s feeling that doom was always around the corner, and that salvation lay in swift, direct, and sometimes even violent action, explains Jeremiah Duggan’s murder. Duggan’s refusal to yield to the organization’s need for domination of everyone within their sphere stoked that very sense of crisis, which required immediate, brutal action. The connections mentioned in the previous (and earlier posts), offer possible insight as to why authorities in two different nations only reluctantly pursued the matter.

Yet, two additional observations better explain what led Jeremiah Duggan to Wiesbaden in the first place. First of all, LaRouche’s hold on his flocks began to slip over the years. Linda Ray, the aforementioned 1979 defectors, and others of the old guard grew up. No longer college kids fawning at a learned guru, some began to hear LaRouche’s inconsistent pronunciations as the lunatic ravings of an embittered old man. While a number of them remain loyal to this day, many insiders and former insiders began to notice LaRouche distancing himself from some of his longest supporters.

Some feel that LaRouche’s loss of control over older members prompted his increasing alienation from them. Other, more cynical types attributed this to the fact that older people simply weren’t as vigorous as younger ones. They didn’t have the same energy. They suffered from more health problems, which not only undermined their fundraising efforts, but drained their pocketbooks as well, and thus hampered their ability to give to the organization.

Whatever the reason, the Worldwide LaRouche Youth Movement (WLYM) became the top priority. To Lyndon, these represented a new guard of activists, tender young intellectuals ready, willing and able to be molded into his ideological clones. The old guard, the one that had sacrificed so much for him since the 1960s, could just off themselves, as far as he was concerned. In fact LaRouche actually said as much in a “morning briefing” dated April 11, 2007, writing, “...the [Baby] Boomers will be scared into becoming human, because you’re the real world, and they’re not. Unless they want to commit suicide.”

Hours after the dissemination of that briefing, Ken Kronberg, a long-time associate who headed PMR, the organization’s print media publisher, and who was cited in the memo as one of the worst failures of the Baby Boomer LaRouchies, apparently decided to become part of the real world by jumping off an overpass to his death.

The last missing piece of the puzzle is Jeremiah Duggan himself, and he’s not that difficult to understand, really. By all accounts he was a moral, rational, intelligent, and well liked young man who possessed a sense of social responsibility and justice. The idealism so often found in the newly adult opened his mind to the possibility that maybe the answers to all of the world’s problems had been found by one man. He wasn’t so naïve to believe anything willy-nilly. But he would go as far as Wiesbaden to find out the truth about LaRouche and his organization.

Unfortunately, he did discover the truth.

LaRouche and his followers obviously have much to lose with respect to future recruiting were the facts of Duggan’s case publicized vigorously. They have understandably relied heavily on the spurious police report to wash their hands of responsibility. As reported by the Schiller Institute:
Jeremiah Duggan, a 22 year-old British student, died after being struck by traffic on a road outside Wiesbaden, Germany on March 27th, 2003.

At the time Duggan was studying at the University of Paris, and had travelled to Germany to attend a conference sponsored by the Schiller Institute. Several hundred other people also attended the conference, which centered on the Eurasian Landbridge: a solution to the global strategic crisis.

German police concluded that Duggan committed suicide by running across a two-lane highway, the Berliner Strasse, and colliding with two private cars in the early hours of March 27th. According to witnesses interviewed by German police, Duggan physically ‘leapt’ into the path of the cars, suffering fatal injuries to the head when he was struck.

German police found no evidence of any third-party involvement in the incident.
The forensic evidence cited in earlier posts flatly contradicted the findings of local authorities, upon which the above statement is based. Thus, if the evidence says Duggan’s death didn’t happen this way, Erica and Hugo Duggan have to find another explanation.

I don’t think that anyone can fully explain what went on except for Duggan’s actual attackers. Nevertheles, one can guess.

I speculate that Benoit Chalifoux, a member of LaRouche’s New Solidarity Movement discovered Jeremiah Duggan, and recognized him as a good recruit for the WLYM. Not only did Duggan respond positively towards the issues of fair play that serve as the organization’s false face, but he was bright and articulate as well. Duggan’s Jewish heritage was an added bonus, for that fact alone could help deflect the charges of anti-Semitism the group frequently encountered. I believe that Chalifoux carefully groomed Duggan over a period of months, slowly indoctrinating him to the cultural and political beliefs of the WLYM. Once he felt that Duggan was ready, Chalifoux sent him off the Schiller Institute for further indoctrination, under the pretense of an anti-war demonstration.

I further speculate that Chalifoux erred in his assessment of Duggan, and that Jeremiah had not yet developed the malleability required for further indoctrination. So when he stood up against an irrational, racist diatribe, Duggan faced a mob’s efforts to “ego strip” him, or in other words, to harass him into some type of conciliation. When verbal threats didn’t have the desired effect, they tried physical ones.

I don’t believe that the security goons present intended to kill Duggan, but rather mop him up--to use their words. After all, Jeremiah would have been an excellent, perhaps even an invaluable recruit for the Youth Movement. Furthermore, kicking the stuffing out of someone, and other forms of torture, are recognized methods of indoctrination. Had Jeremiah survived, members of the Schiller Institute might have possibly had the opportunity to adjust his indoctrination schedule, and completely turn him by the time he recovered from his injuries. If so, Duggan would have most likely cited another source for his wounds--a vehicular accident, perhaps--in order to explain them. As her son became more a part of the WYLM, Erica would have only noticed him growing distant, or cold, and would have perhaps felt that he was never the same after that trip to Wiesbaden.

All this is moot, however, for Jeremiah Duggan did not survive the beating.

I reckon that in those first “ach scheiss” seconds following his death, Jeremiah’s attackers knew they had a problem. Furthermore, the whole of LaRouche’s empire had a major problem. It’s one thing to have blood on your hands. It’s another thing for the whole world to see the blood on your hands. So, relying on friendships and alliances forged with the dormant or latent fascistic circles of Helga Zepp’s home turf, sympathetic authorities conducted a quasi-investigation that absolved the organization and its members from all responsibility. Meanwhile, dealing heavy-handedly with LaRouche wasn’t the first option of some British authorities, for they relied upon their intimate intelligence connections with the US, which itself had relied upon LaRouche’s information sources on an ad hoc basis.

Despite the official denials, Erica Duggan presses on. She has since found legal representation in Germany, and on May 24, 2007, they managed to raise the issue of reopening the investigation in the Bundestag (Parliament). In November of last year, 100 British MPs called for a new inquest in the case.

Where these developments might lead remains unclear. But one thing’s certain: the investigation has come a long way since a German cop summarily dismissed Duggan’s death as a suicide, and a British pathologist performed a perfunctory post-mortem on the body. We’ll just have to see how this turns out.

If you’d like to keep abreast of future developments, or help Erica in her search for answers, click here and bookmark the official Justice for Jeremiah website.

Figure 1. A BBC report on the Jeremiah Duggan case
[]

That concludes this series on the NCLC. Thanks to Ray for e-mailing me the LaRouche chapter of Architects of Fear. Thanks to the rest of you for your comments and for hanging in.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bormann’s Ghost and Mr. Marcus: The Ties that Bind…and Gag

A November 2007 Washington Monthly story, written by Avi Klein, pointed out the extraordinarily high overhead that LaRouche and his organizations operated under. The LaRouchites claim to have spent $2.5 million per annum in printing costs alone, approximately 60% of their operating budget.

At least, that’s what they claim. Some suspect that they have a bit more wherewithal. After all, printing pamphlets to place on card tables around the world represented only part of their financial obligations. There’s LaRouche’s travelling, for one. Then there’s this annoying habit that he and his followers have of running for elected office. He’s also got the Schiller Institute to take care of, and a burgeoning youth movement to groom. And someone’s got to pay the private eyes and goons that he uses for “security consultants.” As one former member, going by the handle ‘xclr4life,’ posted in a recent fact.net forum:

If Lyn [thought] this was all a crock, he would not have any reason to pay Carpet [real name Farzad Darui], The Colonel, MR Ed , Frick and Frack, Roy Frankhouser and the rest of the scam artists over 13 million in cash to reinforce his delusions around the clock. Lyn knows full well what happens to the members, but probably feels justified [since] he is saving the world [emphasis original].
And that’s not even mentioning his wife Helga Zepp’s fabled shopping trips. All of these things cost money. And that’s some budget stretching, considering approximately $4.2 million in the kitty.

Rumored ties to Nazi gold, the remnants of Aktion Adlerflug, are speculative for now. Yet if we take a look at the LaRouche organizations’ known sources of revenue, a very interesting picture emerges. While they irresponsibly accused many of duplicity in the international Jewish conspiracy by making spurious allegations of their funding, the finances of the NCLC seemed a tad more ominous.

In addition to hawking their pamphlets on the unsuspecting public, and constant fund raising through phone canvassing and the like, the NCLC found a couple additional ways to make money. The first was stealing. They had several ways of bilking people. In some instances, supporters who had made contributions to the organization, and were foolish enough to pay by credit card, found that they had accumulated scads of unauthorized charges when they opened their statements.

The more aggressive and personable LaRouchies decided simply to pressure more well-to-do members into advancing them a short-term loan of one or two weeks, loans that the organization had no intention of paying back. Many of the duped were single, divorced or widowed elderly women, who had accumulated a lifetime of savings, or had received inheritances from their spouses and other relatives. NCLC member Michael Billington proved especially adept at charming little old ladies out of their money, prompting prosecutors to characterize him as “ruthless.” Even his mother testified in his federal trial that he “can talk you into or out of just about anything.”

All told, these schemes gained them an additional $34 million dollars between 1984 and 1987. Whoever said talk was cheap didn’t know this bunch. But the criminal justice system did. In December of 1988, LaRouche and several followers (including Billington) were convicted on charges mail fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tax evasion over a series of two federal, and three state, trials. Klansman Roy Frankhouser was convicted in a separate trial for his role in the credit-card thefts. The judge sentenced Frankhouser to three years and a $50,000 fine. LaRouche received a sentence of fifteen years, of which he only served five. Billington, not quite savvy enough to accept a plea deal that would have limited his incarceration to time served, insisted on becoming a martyr. So the judge sentenced him to seventy-seven years, of which he served only eight.

The title of one of their organs, The Executive Intelligence Review, might give you a bit of a clue as to what constituted another source of income: the buying and selling of privileged information. As Dennis King wrote in Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism:

The NCLC's intelligence-gathering prowess of the mid-1980s was the fruit of hundreds of members working at it devotedly for over ten years. LaRouche had first raised the idea of an NCLC intelligence arm in meetings with his top aides in 1971….

By 1976 the NCLC had established a smoothly functioning intelligence headquarters in New York, with branches in several European and Latin American cities. Three interlocking units emerged: the intelligence division proper, which mostly did telephone research and monitored the foreign press; the science unit, which operated out of separate offices through the Fusion Energy Foundation; and the security staff, which worked on sensitive matters such as the harassment of LaRouche's opponents.
During the aforementioned trials, the prosecution successfully convinced a jury that one of LaRouche’s security consultants, namely Frankhouser, wasn’t connected to the CIA at all, as he had claimed, but simply a con man who milked LaRouche for what proved to be useless information. Yet, the ties to LaRouche and Intel were quite real. As King further notes, he had enjoyed the private counsel, and maintained relationships with the likes of such people as Rear Admiral Robert Inman, former head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and second-in-command of the CIA under William Casey (Reagan administration).

When authorities arrested LaRouche for the fraud and conspiracy charges, the Admiral publicly distanced himself from LaRouche’s minions, claiming that they sorta forced their way into his life to “give them importance.” Yet LaRouche had other connections, among them former National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director Norman Bailey, who told an NBC documentary crew that the LaRouchies were “one of the best private intelligence agencies in the world.” They also had the ear of Richard Morris, executive assistant of Judge William Clark, President Reagan’s National Security Advisor. Morris introduced LaRouche to other NSC officials, among them Dr. Ray Pollock. He even had the admiration of Intel officials outside of the United States. Brigadier General Paul-Albert Scherer, former West German counterintelligence chief, became impressed with their inside dope on such diverse topics as Eastern European military movements and the drug trade.

In his federal trial, LaRouche’s legal team tried to convince a jury that he was, in fact, a CIA asset, whom the Company dumped as expendable once his usefulness dried up. While he didn’t convince a jury, his mouthpieces remained convinced that the Agency set him up. In a 1995 letter to then-Attorney General Janet Reno, one of the lawyers handling his appeal, former US Attorney General Ramsay Clark, wrote that his conviction represented “a broader range of deliberate and systematic misconduct and abuse of power over a longer period of time in an effort to destroy a political movement and leader, than any other federal prosecution in my time or to my knowledge.”

In fact, anyone who has known LaRouche has seen his connections first hand. When sharing a cell with him at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, former televangelist Jim Bakker observed the daily calls LaRouche received in prison, conversations held in German to keep them confidential. Bakker witnessed how LaRouche knew detailed information about world affairs that would be officially announved days later, and wrote about this and other LaRouche-inspired intrigues in his autobiography, I Was Wrong.

The reverend speaks the truth concerning Mr. Marcus. I should know. You see, I also witnessed the daily intelligence gathering for almost a year. Actually--I’m ashamed to say--I participated in it.

I cannot give details at this time. But suffice it to say that when you find yourself shuttling envelopes stuffed with cash from point A to point B, and you have to rely on the photocopied chart in your wallet to keep everyone’s aliases straight, you’re probably in way over your head. I certainly was.

I can tell you, however, that LaRouche and his organization have people everywhere—in industry, finance, the military; and as you know from this and previous posts in intelligence, government, and fascist/white supremacist organizations around the globe.

If you’re wondering why intelligence agencies would maintain a dialogue with LaRouche, and perhaps even cooperate with him, think about it this way. LaRouche has his ear to a lot of stuff, in a lot of areas of society and parts of the world that government intelligence agencies find difficult to penetrate. Thus, I’ve always suspected that their relationship to such entities as the CIA and West German Intel constituted more of a quid pro quo type of deal, where the LaRouchies weren’t simply pawns of any one government, but rather occasional bedfellows.

I also suspect that all of these ties that LaRouche forged over the years had something to do with the death of one Jeremiah Duggan.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bormann’s Ghost and Mr. Marcus: The Cover-Up

Detective Schaecher determined within several hours of Jeremiah Duggan’s demise that the young Englishman had committed suicide. The evidence that he cited for it, however, seemed less than compelling, and further strengthened the belief of Duggan’s parents, Hugo and Erica, that their son did not have a reason to kill himself.

According to Schaecher, he came to his decision based upon unsubstatiatied speculation about Duggan's emotional health, and statements made by the drivers who allegedly struck him. Yet, the detective did not make them fill out a formal statement, or file an accident report. Furthermore, he neither recorded a verbal statement on video or tape, nor, as far as we can tell, took notes. In other words, we have no corroboration that Schaecher actually talked to the two alleged drivers on the night of the accident. Moreover, Wiesbaden authorities declined to perform an autopsy, or at the very least describe the injuries Duggan sustained.

Imagine this. You’ve just run over somebody in your car, and killed him. You explain to the investigating officer that the man just threw himself out in front of you. Another driver comes and says, “Yeah, he did the same thing to me, the dirty !@#!.” The officer then agrees that the guy did it to himself, and sends you and the other driver on your merry way.

As silly as it sounds, this is what Schaecher said he did.

The Duggans claimed Jeremiah’s body, and flew it back to England. Upon arrival, the corpse disappeared for seventeen days. That’s not all that went missing. The lack of formal statements, especially at the time of death, would have been important evidence to consider in determining its cause. Moreover, an important source of physical evidence, namely the victim’s clothes, was nowhere to be found. And from the photographs taken at the scene, we know that Duggan had clothes on when he died.

When they finally got Jeremiah’s body back, a British pathologist conducted a perfunctory post-mortem at Finchley Public Mortuary, a facility that had no x-ray machines or laboratories. On November 7, 2003, a little over eight months after Duggan’s death, the coroner’ office issued a verdict. They found that Duggan had “received fatal injuries when he ran into the road in Wiesbaden, Germany and was hit by two private motor cars. He had earlier been in a state of terror.” The coroner further concluded that German authorities had thoroughly investigated the case.

While that might have left one with the impression that Erica and Hugo Duggan were simply two parents who couldn’t face reality, their attorney, Frances Swaine noted a number of problems with the coroner’s verdict that were pointed out by other expert witnesses. The first, Paul Canning, a veteran forensic photographer who had formerly worked for Metropol, noticed right away that the cars at the crime scene had been moved during the sequence of photographs supplied by Wiesbaden authorities. More disturbing, the photographs gave no indication that a vehicular homicide had taken place:

I cannot reconcile the fact that there are no traces of skin, blood, hair or clothing on either vehicle, nor can I see any blood tissue or clothing debris on the road (except blood in the immediate vicinity of the body), nor any tyre marks or signs on either Jerry or the cars, to indicate that either vehicle has made contact with Jerry....

The Peugeot has major damage…but no biological traces....

I have never photographed a vehicle that has hit a person at speed and caused their death without there being some obvious signs that the body and vehicle have made contact....

I have never seen or photographed a sharp dent in a car door that has been caused by an impact with a person. The dent is more likely to have been caused by contact from a heavy instrument, or even another vehicle.
An unnamed criminologist testifying at the inquest agreed:

The Blue Volkswagen car shows no evidence of hitting Mr. Duggan, although there was damage to the front bumper, there were no fibres, hairs, blood or skin or any other evidence to prove that this car was involved in an accident....

[I believe] that the windscreen [has] been hit with an instrument, possibly a crow bar or something similar. There was no evidence of any fibres, hairs, blood or skin on the broken glass

The offside driver’s door has been hit with probably the same instrument…The dent in the side of the door was too sharp and pointed and therefore, could not have been made by the human body.
This led both experts to conclude something much more sinister. As Canning put it:

I do not believe that they [the crime scene photographs] depict how Jerry came to meet his premature and alleged unlawful death. I believe that is it is possible that Jerry lost his life elsewhere and was subsequently placed at this scene.
Despite these problems, British authorities refused to press the case with their German counterparts. But the Duggans, especially Erica, managed to build public support for reopening the case, and to get further a further review from as many authorities as she could.

This culminated in a second examination of the medical examiner's reports, photographs and other documents by qualified pathologists in March of 2007. In addition to concurring with Canning’s observations, they discovered something not brought out at the coroner's inquest. They found numerous head wounds caused by blunt force trauma, the size and shape of the marks indicating blows by fists and/or feet. In other words, someone punched and kicked Jeremiah to death.

As a final blow to the suicide argument, they pointed out several other pieces of information, one of which was known to British pathologists in 2003. First of all, Jeremiah had swallowed a large amount of his own blood, indicating that it took a long time for him to die. This absolutely negates the possibility that he got run over by a couple of cars within a matter of seconds, as Schaecher alleged. Secondly, there were no tire marks on Duggan’s body or on his clothes, as evidenced by the crime scene photos.

Most important, Duggan had sustained numerous defensive wounds on the arms and hands. Defensive wounds are injuries that occur when in response to someone punching or kicking you, you reflexively bring up your arms to shield more vital area of your body. Although you manage to deflect some of the force of some of the blows from your head or elsewhere, your arms and hands take a beating.

You don’t get numerous defensive and multiple head wounds by getting run over by a couple of cars. These are the kind of injuries you get from a fight. In Duggan’s case, the injuries were fatal. Moreover, the presence of sand on Duggan’s jeans and shoes indicates that he had been in a sandy area, since there was no sand on the road. This further corroborated Canning’s supposition that Jeremiah died somewhere else, and someone then carried his body to Berliner Strasse.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bormann’s Ghost and Mr. Marcus: The Grim Pilgrimage

Erica and Hugo Duggan flew immediately to Germany upon hearing news of their son Jeremiah’s passing. In addition to reclaiming his body, they wanted information about how the police could rule his death a suicide, especially in light of the frantic telephone pleas for help that Erica received two hours before it happened.

On March 29th, they met with a Herr Schaecher, the Wiesbaden police detective who investigated the case. Schaecher explained that the drivers of the two cars that hit him told him that Jeremiah lunged out in front of them in an apparent attempt to get hit. Furthermore, other drivers attested that he had jumped out in front of them a half hour earlier, one of which just barely clipped him.

While the Duggans might have understood their son taking a mad dash into traffic to escape pursuers, and thus getting run over by a car, what Schaecher told him next set off their BS alarm. The detective said that Jeremiah’s history of mental illness, and his girlfriend’s worry that he would drown himself in the river during that weekend made him a prime candidate for suicide.

Maya, young Duggan’s girlfriend, had received a mysterious telephone call from a LaRouche associate named Sebastian Drochon at about the same time Erica received her frantic call from Jeremiah. During the odd conversation, she asked if there were any rivers nearby, and this formed the basis of Schaecher’s supposition that Jeremiah wanted to drown himself. But as she has clearly indicated, Maya only wanted to know of a nearby river so that she could look up Wiesbaden on a map, for she didn’t know where it was.

As for the history of mental illness, the Duggans had no idea where that supposition came from until Schaecher pointed out that Jeremiah had been a patient at the Tavistock Institute, a facility that (as you could probably guess from the previous posts) held a special meaning for LaRouche and his followers.

The real story: in the process of divorcing, Hugo and Erica decided that they should seek family counselling, and include Jeremiah in the process. They understandably sought the best help they could find, and the Tavistock Clinic certainly fit that bill. The period the Duggans attended there was brief, and no one diagnosed Jeremiah as depressed, suicidal, or so much as mildly neurotic. There were no indications at all that he suffered from any suicidal tendencies.

While most suicide victims don’t leave notes, they tend to leave a clear indication that they have self-destructive thoughts. For example, many actual suicides have a history of unsuccessful attempts. Most usually have seen a therapist of some stripe for depression long ago. Many of them are on anti-depressants. Virtually all of them at least have a clear motive, which if not painfully obvious during the run-up to the event is certainly clear in hindsight. None of this applied to Duggan.

It’s extremely difficult for someone to hide depression and appear well adjusted to people who see him everyday. They would have seen some sign of it—apathy, loss of appetite, increased appetite, self-destructive behavior (e.g., drinking or drug binges, reckless driving), or reclusion. Duggan had a girlfriend and other pals, who would have noticed anything strange.

Thus, Schaecher’s supposition that Jeremiah had a long history of mental illness just isn’t correct. Yet, he clung to this story despite all evidence. In fact, the Duggans would later find out that the German cop didn’t seem to have much use for evidence at all.

Meanwhile, in her initial investigation of her son’s death, Erica Duggan noted one horrific irony. The police said that Jeremiah met his death crossing Berliner Strasse in Wiesbaden. This street held a special significance for Erica, for it was the road her father travelled to escape Nazi persecution in the 1930s. Until 2003, the road served as a family metaphor for freedom from totalitarianism. Ever since, it has represented the ultimate enslavement to totalitarianism: death.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Bormann’s Ghost and Mr. Marcus: The SS Connection

In 1973, Christine Berl, a trusted organizer acting under the direct order of Lyndon LaRouche, compiled research on Nazi political tactics during their early days in the 1920s. In his book Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism¸ Dennis King chronicled Berl’s reactions. According to him, a dark, inescapable realization came over her: the Nazi’s tactics and LaRouche’s were identical.

King went on to chronicle the definitive break between LaRouche and the legitimate left. As repeated attempts to dominate the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) failed ideologically and logically, LaRouche trained a cadre of NCLC members in martial arts during the early part of 1973. Later that year, the Larouchites launched Operation Mop Up, which literally took to fisticuffs against CPUSA members as they demonstrated, immediately reminding even the most amateur historian of the Beer Hall Putsch.

While King noted that the NCLC-induced melees did no real political damage to the CPUSA, they nonetheless strengthened LaRouche’s position as the group’s leader:

...Mop Up was a great success for LaRouche. It induced his followers to believe that those they had attacked, and who had fought back, were permanently the enemy. No longer were non-NCLC leftists seen as rivals within a common Marxist tradition. They had become unredeemable devils, traitors to the working class, subhuman police agents, fascists [emphasis original].
Not one to take his victories and move on graciously, LaRouche sought to expand upon the success of Mop Up by building a security force. To do this, he at first relied upon the protégés of actual fascists, then later through very open ties LaRouche made to old-guard Nazis in Germany.

LaRouche called it a strategy. Critics called it pandering to such bozos as Roy Frankhauser (left), a Grand Dragon who introduced Lyndon to KKK and neo-Nazi circles. Frankhouser, a veteran of white supremacist groups, boasted to his hooded comrades of his exploits as an FBI informant, one who continuously supplied them mounds of misinformation, and funnelled the payoffs he received from the Bureau into the Klan and other racist activities. By 1975, he had become a “security consultant” for the NCLC.

The internal security component of the NCLC would lead LaRouche more deeply into the far right. Through Frankhouser, he met Mitchell WerBell III (right). The son of White Russian immigrants, a former OSS officer, and a long-time asset of the CIA, WerBell introduced LaRouche into a world of spies and proto-fascists. A maniacal right-winger, WerBell also developed the NCLC’s security division at his own paramilitary camp in Powder Springs, GA.

From 1975-1980, LaRouche’s contacts with the far right expanded to include Willis Carto, founder of the Liberty Lobby, an offshoot of the John Birch Society. Carto was a devotee of Francis Parker Yockey, a lifelong fascist who tried unsuccessfully to form Nazi terrorist cells during the 1940s and 1950s. Yockey’s manifesto, titled Imperium, consists of what can charitably be described as a rant against rationality in deference to severe authoritarianism and high culture--a position in which Carto believed in fully, and which LaRouche eventually adopted. As the Twentieth Century came to a close, LaRouche and Carto had a personal falling out which led them to attack each other. But as far back as the 1970s, Carto endorsed LaRouche and his organization, and afforded prolific NCLC spokesperson, Nancy Spannus, numerous opportunities to publish articles in The Spotlight, the LL’s official organ.

King further reported that after 1980, LaRouche and his third wife, Wiesbaden native Helga Zepp, openly courted former WWII-era Nazis, especially those who worked in science and industry during the war. In 1981, for example, he hosted a dinner for Adolf Busemann, a Nazi scientist who came to the US via Operation PAPERCLIP. In his speech and in subsequent Executive Intelligencer Review articles he praised Busemann and other Nazi scientists for representing “the classic German tradition.” Larouche and Zepp went on to befriend a number of PAPERCLIP/Nazi alums, among them Kraft Ehricke; Arthur Rudolph, who, as manager of the Mittlewerk factory, worked 5,000 concentration camp labours literally to death; and many others. He also published a translation of Modern Irregular Warfare by Nazi war hero Brig. Gen. Freiherr von der Heydt. The LaRouchite organ New Solidarity praised von der Heydt for providing a model of “total violent confrontation, involving the state and people,” and urged readers to buy the book in bulk to give to public officials.

The promotion of Nazi idealism won the support of sympathetic German government officials in the police, judiciary, military, and Intel, among them Nazi admirer Admiral Karl-Adolf Zenker, and former West German military CIC chief Paul-Albert Sherer, who openly supported LaRouche courtesy of the Schiller Institute.

The Nazi/right-wing entanglements of the NCLC might not be common knowledge among rank and file members. Worse yet, they aren’t apparent to those they solicit on the street. Since the 1980s, LaRouche followers have boldly proclaimed progressive ideals to the public, especially in the United States and Canada. Yet, their fascist proclivities are quite prominent to anyone who would check below the empty rhetoric.

In Jeremiah Duggan’s case, LaRouche’s hidden agenda, and the personal hypocrisy of his followers led the young Englishman to believe that the movement represented by the former Trotskyite fit well with his personal ideology. Little did Duggan know that he had left the security of his home to meet with a group that was hostile to his personal creed, and to his very existence as a Jew. Furthermore, he would lose easy communication with his parents, girlfriend and mates in a foreign country, real terra incognita. What’s worse, he would walk into a situation where the ideological descendants of his ancestors’ sworn enemies not only managed his visit, but also held places of authority within government institutions.

Worst of all, Duggan had cast his lot with a group that had developed its own assault forces trained by said sworn enemies of his ancestors.

So, should it surprise us that he turned up dead?

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bormann’s Ghost and Mr. Marcus: The Attack on Minorities

Among other things, LaRouche the ex-Trotskyite now claimed that the US faced a conspiratorial attack from communists. If you’re assuming he meant some kind of sneaky influence from China, Cuba or the Soviet Union, then you’d only be partially right. For behind the facade of these sovereign states, he reasoned, lay a bigger plot brought about by a more sinister bunch: the Jewish International Conspiracy.

What led him to this conclusion? Hmm.

LaRouche manifest this brand of bigotry in vicious diatribes against Henry Kissinger and other prominent Jews at first, but it later extended to all Jewish institutions including the B’nai B’rith, the ADL and the state of Israel. In their organizational magazine New Solidarity, he described Jews as “a subhuman oligarchical species.” In an article titled “The Case of Ludwig Fuerbach,” he wrote:

Judaism is the religion of a caste of subjects of Christianity, entirely molded by ingenious rabbis to fit into the ideological and secular life of Christianity. In short, a self-sustaining Judaism never existed and never could exist.
Of course, the above makes you wonder how Judaism sustained itself for 1,500 years before Christianity.

When LaRouche began downplaying the Holocaust, it would end all doubt that his organization was courting such fascistic segments of the population as the KKK and other racist extremists.

Strangely, one-fourth of the NCLC was, like the aforementioned Linda Ray, Jewish. Still, members feared the new deprogramming efforts too much to complain. Some Jewish LaRouchies even went so far as to help promote the orgainization's new anti-Semitic line. LaRouche, in turn, pointed to their membership as proof that the NCLC wasn’t simply a bunch of bigoted baboons. Still, individual members found themselves surrounded by Jewish jokes and other bashing. Some, like Robert Cohen and Paul Goldstein griped, naturally. That only made them targets for ‘persuasion’ to correct thinking under the whip of LaRouche’s third wife, Helga Zepp, a native of Wiesbaden, Germany who bluntly claimed that the persecution of Jews during WWII was a hoax.

While there are said to be people of color within the organization (I haven’t met any, but they claim there are--I’ll take their word on that for the time being), the same types of strategies seem to apply, particularly in the US. While claiming to champion the cause of minorities, they bitterly attacked prominent Blacks, Latinos and Asians when they acted independently. When, in 1973, organizer Leroy Jones (aka Amiri Imamu Baraka) advocated community-based action in order to change urban policy, LaRouche supporters made unsubstantiated accusations that his, and other movements within decaying US cities had been backed financially by Wall Street corporations, and that Baraka and others like him were stooges of British/Jewish/communist mind control. As the NCLC put it, black leaders who disrespected LaRouche wore the “Tavistock Grin.”

As he did to Jewish members, LaRouche held up African Americans in his organization in order to show his commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, but quickly kicked them to the curb if the presented problems. One FactNet poster related an example of this in the treatment of a woman referred to only by the initial ‘S.,’ a one-time successful moneymaking fundraiser from the Chicago office who accompanied Zepp on a number of shopping trips:

No matter how ‘special’ S thought she was to Helga, she was only as good as the next ‘Special’ the phone team was bringing in. Once that well dried up, S dried up. S was also another boomer victim of the cult. At one time S was on top of the world and was put on the National Committee, a pretty big deal if you are into the cult. But, it all came tumbling down as once the income figures dropped, Lyn noticed and that was that. Eventually S was babysitting other members' kids.
All-told, it seems clear that LaRouche and his organization actively sought and used Jews and Blacks in order to deflect charges of racism and anti-Semitism. But open contempt for non-“Aryan” civilization, and coded language that attacked "inferior" civilizations, indicated that his vision of cultural purity was tantamount to racial purity.

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